Emergency Procedures: Earthquakes

An earthquake is a sudden, rapid shaking of the earth caused by the breaking and shifting of rock beneath the earth’s surface. Earthquakes strike suddenly, without warning, and they can occur at any time of the year, day or night. Forty-five states and territories in the United States are at moderate to very high risk of earthquakes, and they are located in every region of the country.

  • DROP down onto your hands and knees before the earthquake knocks you down. This position protects you from falling but allows you to still move if necessary.
  • COVER your head and neck (and your entire body if possible) under the shelter of a sturdy table or desk. If there is no shelter nearby, get down near an interior wall or next to low-lying furniture that won't fall on you, and cover your head and neck with your arms and hands.
  • HOLD ON to your shelter (or to your head and neck) until the shaking stops. Be prepared to move with your shelter if the shaking shifts it around.

Remain calm. DO NOT stand in a doorway. You are safer under a table. In modern houses, doorways are no stronger than any other part of the house. The doorway does not protect you from the most likely source of injury−falling or flying objects. Most earthquake-related injuries and deaths are caused by falling or flying objects (e.g., TVs, lamps, glass, bookcases), or by being knocked to the ground.

Faculty, staff or students in proximity to persons with disabilities should proceed to help those individuals to take cover under a desk or table. 

Stay away from glass shelves and heavy equipment.

After the initial shock, call 911.

If an emergency exists, activate the building alarm and evacuate the building.

Do not return to an evacuated building until an administrator has given the “all clear” signal.

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